Will Gardening Save Me Money?

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23 Responses

  1. Juanita Hazelton says:

    Years ago when my children were small I raised a large garden, organically. In the mornings I cultivated and weeded with my hoe — no tiller, and in the afternoons I harvested and froze or canned the produce. We didn’t have a large income in those days, but I raised much of the food we ate, and was able to stay home with our two sons instead of working for pay. Now at age 70, I am trying to eat a vegan diet and am concerned about the pesticides used on all those fruits and vegetables I eat. I can’t physically return to those garden tasks I once loved. Last year I purchased three grow-boxes, installed them on my porch where I could water them easily, and planted tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries. The plants flourished beautifully, but halfway through the season everything died of what I think was fusarium wilt. I now think it was from contaminated soil I bought commercially. I had also made a raised bed out of a bookcase, using the same commercial mix. The beets, lettuce, spinach, and swiss chard I planted there did not produce well. This year I’m hoping my square foot garden in the bookcase and my three grow boxes will fulfill my wishes to grow vegetables with minimal effort. Here’s hoping your website will help me too!

  2. Emily says:

    I take down my trellises, drain my irrigation, pull out all the dead plants, and call it good. Last year I covered them with plastic so the snow wouldn’t leach the nutrients from the soil. Not sure if I’ll make that a habit or not.

  3. Babs Wood says:

    How do you put your garden plots to bed for winter?

  4. Barbara says:

    I just found you today. What a joy! I am a 73 years old retired Missionary wife. After retiring from Taiwan my 75 year old husband is pastoring a church here in the USA. Much of our time is spent with and for others, which we enjoy dearly, but I have found that gardening is my get away time. Nothing like being out there early each morning just me and my God in my garden. This last spring was my first garden since returning to the US. With 8 4×4 raised beds I hardly ever had to buy veggies for a family of five. We enjoyed so many deferent veggies. Now I have added 4 3×6 frames for my fall planting. In my spring beds I used the layered method. Since then I got Mel’s square foot garden book. My four new beds are Mel’s mix. I will see which works best. Texas is so hot and dry till I am not sure I am getting my fall garden started early enough. I was wanting a lot of peas and beans to can. I have planted this week. I will report in a few weeks on how things are.

  5. Chris says:

    Paula mentions the cedar pickets for the boxes. That is what I have been using for years. Here in west central TX they cost 1.87 each and are 5 1/2 inches wide. I screw them to 1 ft. stacks I make out of 1X2 left over from making wire cage covers. It takes only 3 for the 6X3 box Paula mentioned. So less then $10 for a box, that leaves budget more open for compost until you can get a large amount produced. We can squeeze in 3 growing seasons so the compost really can pile up. Thanks for the site Emily.

  6. Emily says:

    Meg–great point–good for the environment, and good for us. A win-win!

  7. Meg says:

    Awesome site, Emily! I’m looking forward to learning.

    I’d add an 8th reason, which is our impact on the environment. Store-bought food in the US usually traveled over 1000 miles before it gets to our plates, and it’s closer to 1500 miles for fruits and vegetables. So much better when a salad comes from the back yard rather than half a continent away. The documentary Food, Inc. does a good job of laying out the various issues in a balanced way.

    I’ve started doing aquaponics because of the symbiotic relationship between the fish and plants (very ‘green’). Plus the fish are so fun, the way they all line up waiting for the handful of pellets I toss them morning and night (and go crazy when the pellets hit the water). But I know next to squat about gardening, since I’ve not done it much prior to now. So I’m really looking forward to learning here!

  8. Cheryl says:

    I feel like I need to put my $.02 in. 🙂 One of my fondest memories in high school was eating the canned fruit my mom did, as well as blanched/frozen corn. We were lucky in that while we didn’t garden much, we lived in farm country and others would let us glean their fields/trees. So while most of the garden is used right away, having some canned/frozen is also a really good way to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of our labors. Good luck, everyone, on a bountiful harvest this year! 🙂

  9. Donna says:

    Although it is expensive to build these gardens, there are ways to do it. I built my boxes from salvaged stadium bleachers. I used old commercial metal shelving, chain link fence, antenna tower, and other items repainted in bright colors for trellises. I salvaged an old antique garden sink. An old hog waterer, set facing south at 45 degrees, with paint and a piece of piano hinge and double pane window made a cold frame. Every year I have added about ten boxes in varying sizes. I now have 33 boxes between 2×3 and 11×4 feet. My only cost was some good peat and topsoil mix that I had hauled in to fill the boxes. Now I make compost to revitalize my soil.

  10. Emily says:

    Some of these garden boxes are sold with a bottom on them. Basically, it would be a very large container garden. So I think you could improvise and make that work. My biggest concern is that most veggies require 8-12 hours of sunlight. You can grow some things on less–leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.), and some root vegetables (carrots, beets, radishes), but plants like tomatoes, peppers, squash all require full sun.

  11. Stacey Mardene says:

    Is there a way to set up one of these boxes on an apartment patio? I really want to grow a little garden and get started now instead of waiting until we eventually get a house down the road. What is the best way to do it, especially since I can’t always count on direct sunlight with the other apartments around me?

  12. Emily says:

    Morgan–let me think on that for a while. I have a forum set up, and we could establish one for regions with similar growing conditions. I just don’t know how much people would use it.

  13. Morgan Davis says:

    I really enjoy reading every ones comments and suggestions. Isn’t there some way that people in the same city or geographical area could communicate with each other (at least those who so desire) and share ideas, experiences and suggestions?

  14. Paula says:

    Yep, those are the reasons I garden, too.
    About the cost of raised beds, I found an idea somewhere on the internet to use 6ft. cedar fence pickets to build the beds. I’m planning 6ft. x 3ft. x 6in. beds for my next garden. I’ve discovered the beds don’t have to be set up any deeper for my needs…once the soil is fluffed and full of compost, the worms do the rest of the work of deepening the root-growing space below the prepared beds ( and I began on hard clay-type soil). To keep expenses down, don’t forget to use shredded leaves, used coffee grounds (Starbucks-
    free), and grass trimmings which can be added as lower layers to your garden bed. Try Lasagna gardening using materials you can find near your home.

  15. Emily says:

    You never have to “start fresh”–just add what is necessary. The peat moss prevents compacting and retains water. The vermiculite keeps it light and fluffy and creates pockets of air so that it drains well and doesn’t get too soggy. Add either as needed.

  16. Lauren says:

    Hi Emily –
    Love the tip on just adding compost each year instead of more peat moss and vermiculite. But how many years can you do that for before you do need to start fresh?

  17. Emily says:

    I don’t add peat moss and vermiculite every year–it’s the most expensive part! And those take several years to degrade. Instead, I just add compost. Also, be sure to “fluff” it up with a pitchfork or rake. Sometimes it settles, but part of what is great about this mix is that it drains well and has tiny air pockets in the soil, which keeps roots from being water logged.

  18. Abby says:

    Wonderful comments – thankyou! I love my square foot garden boxes but every year I have the same delimma. The mix in my boxes will settle so much that I need to add more each year which becomes a bit expensive. Would you recommend adding anything other than Mel’s mix?

  19. Brian says:

    Hi Emily,
    Well said!, and gardening is therepeutic too. With angling, gardening is the most popular hobby in the world.

  20. Emily says:

    There are initial costs of gardening–you can get an idea by visiting these posts: building a garden box (wood), and Mel’s mix. Part of the reality of gardening is that, just like sewing your own clothing–it probably won’t save you money. It’s an investment you make for other reasons, not just financial.

  21. Very well put! However, I know the expenses of getting started can be off-putting. We wrestled with the costs of setting up our raised beds (what’s allowed in our subdivision) for over a year before we plunged in. From now on, our key expenses are any compost (we just got a bin for Christmas), seeds and water.

  22. Summer Wilda says:

    amen. 🙂

  23. daisy says:

    Well said! There are so many benefits to gardening. Nothing like the peaceful feeling of doing something you know is right for you. Thanks for sharing with us!